Ex-Quick Step pro Jérôme Pineau has confirmed that his long-rumoured launch of a professional continental team will take place next season, with Direct Énergie sprinter Bryan Coquard lined up as its marquee signing.
Former Fortuneo secondary sponsor Vital Concept will be the primary backer of the team, which is expected to start with around 20 riders.
“We’ll start off with a three-year deal, initially at Pro Continental level, with the aim of entering the WorldTour, if it still exists, during this period,” Pineau told L’Equipe.
He added that he could not confirm the names of any of the riders he is hoping to sign before the 1 August deadline for signing new contracts.
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However, it seems almost certain that Coquard will be one of the new team’s leaders. The French sprinter is a close friend of Pineau and announced in the spring that he will be leaving Direct Énergie at the end of this season. The revelation led to him being dropped from consideration for a place on their Tour de France team.
One of the new team’s prospective managers has told L’Équipe: “The launch of the team depends on Coquard joining.” Other riders who have been linked with a move to Vital Concept include Quick-Step Floors’s Matteo Trentin, BMC Racing’s Amaël Moinard, FDJ’s Johan Le Bon and Direct Énergie’s Julien Morice.
Pineau did reveal that the team’s budget will be “between five and eight million euros”, but L’Équipe believes the total figure could be more than 10 million euros.
Pineau added: “A dozen riders we’re planning to take on, among whom there will be some foreigners, will be capable of being competitive from the first year.”